Dr. Karen Lee

Music and medicine may seem to be disparate worlds, but a passion and talent for both often goes hand in hand. Each is an exacting discipline that requires dedication and painstaking practice to excel at the highest level. A Harvard Medical School study found that more than 70 percent of the physicians interviewed had earlier musical training.

No one understands these connections better than Dr. Karen Lee, who started life as a concert violinist before turning to medicine. A recent émigré to the Southwest, she is a board-certified geriatrician practicing in northwest Tucson.

Luckily for us, she hasn’t put the violin aside. At 11:30 a.m. Tuesday (Oct.  17), she will play her first Tucson recital at the Arizona Senior Academy, with piano accompaniment by Kyungsun Choi.

Her program will begin with the Beethoven Violin Sonata No. 1 in D Major, a work written around the period the composer studied with Hayden. Three excerpts from Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story” will follow. To conclude, Lee will play Liebesleid (Love’s Sorrow), a beloved Fritz Kreisler piece.

Lee’s musical journey began at the age of 4 and soon found her performing on public radio in Boston and New York; with the National String Orchestra at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center; and winning high honors in the prestigious Yehudi Menuhin, Paganini, and Stulberg international competitions.

Her medical career included training in geriatrics at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and a Master’s in Public Health from Harvard. She has also produced award-winning patient education films focused on health concerns within underserved communities.

A native of Seoul, Choi earned a DMA in Piano Performance at the University of Arizona under the tutelage of Paula Fan. Since 2007, he has been the accompanist with Tucson’s Reveille Men’s Chorus.

Written by Caroline Bates, Academy Village Volunteer

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A Doctor with a Passion for Music: October 2017
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